Icelander Thor Thorsteinsson has been working in Finland at Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) for the past eight years. As Senior Financial Manager he is in charge of all financial analyses in NEFCO projects as well as building up a portfolio of banks with which NEFCO provides results-based green financing, mainly in Eastern Europe.
An MBA degree had always been a goal for Thorsteinsson, who received his bachelors degree in business administration from Reykjavik University back in 2003. He had in fact already started an MBA program in Iceland in 2008, but had to drop out upon joining NEFCO and moving to Finland.
"I had not studied theoretically for 12 years and it was time to put the brain back to work. I wanted to expand my knowledge, especially within leadership and strategic thinking; I felt an MBA was the best way to achieve this," Thorsteinsson says.
"I looked into the different possibilities for an MBA in Finland and for me, Aalto EE was the obvious choice: its reputation, faculty, location – everything fit perfectly," Thorsteinsson lists.
Thorsteinsson describes his study experience as very fulfilling.
The MBA was definitely a good investment. I gained a great deal of new knowledge, also in my own area of expertise, finance.
"A lot of people have asked me about the MBA experience. My response is that the MBA was definitely a good investment. I gained a great deal of new knowledge, also in my own area of expertise, finance."
"I enjoyed learning not only through theories, but with real life cases as well. It was most rewarding to learn and use different approaches and methods in solving complicated problems that are different from the ones I come across in my current workplace," Thorsteinsson ponders.
For Thorsteinsson, one of the best learning experiences was the personal development process.
"I must admit that initially I did not believe in it, but I soon realized that it was very effective. You learn more about yourself, your weaknesses, your behavior and attitude and the way you approach many different issues. Personal development is something only you can implement and control by yourself, there are no quick solutions. You have to be focused and do the work. This process was one of the most rewarding parts of the studies – and it will continue indefinitely," Thorsteinsson points out.
He says that while the MBA is demanding, in hindsight the MBA years at Aalto EE went past very fast.
I am confident the MBA will be beneficial for my career. The increased benefits do not come immediately on your graduation day; they come in time when you demonstrate the competence gained with the MBA."
"I put in a lot of effort while gaining good experience. When I think about it now, the two years at Aalto EE feel like a few months. The program is over before you know it. Now that we finished I find myself wondering what am I going to do with all this extra time on my hands," Thorsteinsson laughs.
"During the MBA, I also developed my network very positively and it will only continue to grow. My fellow classmates were the highlight of the studies. I enjoyed the group sessions and teamwork throughout. I made many good friends which will continue to be part of my future. The group made me realize that the MBA is not a race. Its a long-running team run."
Thorsteinsson says he definitely recommends the MBA: "I found it challenging, yet very manageable even for a family person like me with three kids at home. Of course the great support from my family helped me throughout, Thorsteinsson emphasizes. I am confident the MBA will be beneficial for my career. The increased benefits do not come immediately on your graduation day; they come in time when you demonstrate the competence gained with the MBA."